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MY TWO AUNTS.
PAILOSOPHERS tell us that we know nothing but from its opposite; then I certainly knew my two aunts very perfectly, for greater opposites were never made since the formation of light and darkness; but they were both good creatures,--so are light and darkness both good things in their place. My two aunts, however, were not so appropriately to be compared to light and darkness as to crumb and crust—the crumb and crust of a new loaf; the crumb of which is marvellously soft, and crust of which is exceeding crisp, dry, and snappish. The one was my father's sister, and the other was my mother's; and very curiously it happened that they were both named Bridget. To distinguish between them, we young folks used to call the quiet and easy one Aunt Bridget, and the bustling, worrying one Aunt Fidget. You never in the whole course of your life saw such a quiet, easy, comfortable creature as Aunt Bridget she was not immensely large, but prodigiously fat. Her weight did not exceed twenty stone, or two-and-twenty at the utmosthot weather made some little difference; but she might be called prodigiously fat, because she was all fat; I don't think there was an ounce of lean in her whole composition. She was so imperturbably goodnatured, that I really do not believe that she ever was in a passion in the whole course of her life. I have no doubt that she had her troubles; we all have troubles more or less, but Aunt Bridget did not like to trouble herself to complain. The greatest trouble that she endured was the alternation of day and night-it was a trouble to her to go up stairs to bed, and it was a trouble to her to come down stairs to breakfast; but, when she was once in bed, she could sleep ten hours without dreaming, and when she was once up and seated in her comfortable arm-chair, by the fire-side, with her knitting apparatus in order, and a nice, fat, flat, comfortable quarto volume on a small table at her side, the leaves of which volume she could turn over with her knitting needle, she was happy for the day—the grief of getting up was forgotten, and the trouble of going to bed was not anticipated. Knowing her aversion to moving, I was once saucy enough to recommend her to make two days into one, that she might not have the trouble of going up and down stairs so often. Anybody but Aunt Bridget would have boxed my ears for my impertinence, and would, in so doing, have served me rightly; but she, good creature, took it all in good part, and said, “ Yes, my dear, it would save trouble, but I am afraid it would not be good for my health; I should not have exercise enough." Aunt Bridget loved quiet, and she lived in the quietest place in the world. There is not a spot in the deserts of Arabia, or in the Frozen Ocean, to be for a moment comrared for quietness with Hans Place
“ The very houses seem asleep ;" and when the bawlers of milk, mackerel, dabs, and flounders enter the placid precincts of that place, they scream with a subdued violence, like the hautboy played with a piece of cotton in the bell. You might almost fancy that oval of building to be some mysterious egg on which the genius of silence had sat brooding ever since the creation of the world, or even before Chaos had combed its head and washed its face. There is in that place a silence that may be heard, a delicious stillness which the ear drinks in as greedily as the late Mr. Dando used to gulp oysters. It is said that when the inhabitants are all asleep, they can hear one another snore. Here dwelt my Aunt Bridget,-kindest of the kind, and quietest of the quiet. But goodnature is terribly imposed upon in this wicked world of ours; and so it was with Aunt Bridget. Her poulterer, I am sure, used to charge her at least ten per cent. more than any of the rest of his customers, because she never found fault. She was particularly fond of ducks,- very likely from a sympathy with their quiet style of locomotion; but she disliked haggling about the price, and she abhorred the trouble of choosing them, so she left it to the man's conscience to send what he pleased, and to charge what he pleased. I declare that I have seen upon her table such withered, wizened, toad-like villains of half-starved ducks, that they looked as if they had died of the hoopingcough. And if ever I happened to say anything approaching to reproach of the poulterer, Aunt would always make the same reply—“ I don't like to be always finding fault.” It was the same with her wine as it was with her poultry-she used to fancy that she had port and sherry, but she never had anything better than Pontac and Cape Madeira. There was one luxury of female life which my Aunt never enjoyed she never had the pleasure of scolding the maids. She once made the attempt, but it did not succeed. She had a splendid set of Sunday crockery, done in blue and gold, and by the carelessness of one of her maids the whole service was smashed at one fell swoop. “ Now that is too bad,” said my aunt; “ I really will tell her of it.” So I was in hopes of seeing Aunt Bridget in a passion, which would have been as rare a sight as an American aloe in blossom. She rang the bell with most heroic vigour and with an expression of almost a determination to say something very severe to Betty, when she should make her appearance. Indeed if the bell-pull had been Betty, she might have heard half the first sentence of a terrible scolding; but before Betty could answer the summons of the bell, my aunt was as cool as a turbot at a tavern dinner. “ Betty,” said she, “ are they are all broke ?"_" Yes, ma'am," said Betty.--" How came you to break them ?” said my aunt.
-“ They slipped off the tray, ma'am,” replied Betty." Well, then, be more careful another time," said my aunt.--" Yes, ma'am,” said Betty. Next morning another set was ordered. This was not the first, second, or third time that my aunt's crockery had come to an untimely end. My aunt's maids had a rare place in her service. They had high life below stairs in perfection; people used to wonder that she did not see how she was imposed upon; bless her old heart! she never liked to see what she did not like to see, and so long as she could be quiet she was happy. She was a living emblem of the Pacific Ocean.
But my Aunt Fidget was quite another thing. She only resembled my Aunt Bridget in one particular, that is, she had not an ounce of lean about her, but then she had no fat neither-she was all skin and bone; I cannot say for a certainty, but I really believe that she had no marrow in her bones; she was as light as a feather, as dry as a stick, and, had it not been for her pattens, she must have been blown away in windy weather. As for quiet, she knew not the meaning of the word ; she was flying about from morning till night, like a faggot in fits, and finding fault with everybody and everything. Her tongue and her toes had no sinecures. Had she weighed as many pounds as my Aunt Bridget weighed stones, she would have worn out half-a-dozen pair of shoes in a week. I don't believe that Aunt Bridget ever saw the inside of her kitchen, or that she knew exactly where it was; but Aunt Fidget was in all parts of the house at once-she saw everything, heard everything, remembered everything, and scolded about everything. She was not to be imposed upon, either by servants or tradespeople. She kept a sharp look-out upon them all—she knew when and where to go to market. Keen was her eye for the turn of the scale, and she took pretty good care that the butcher should not dab his mutton-chops too hastily in the scale-making momentum tell for weight. I cannot think what she wanted with meat, for she looked as if she ate nothing but raspings, and drank nothing but vinegar. Her love of justice in the matter of purchasing was so great, that when her fishmonger sent her home a pennyworth of sprats, she sent one back to be changed because it had but one eye. She had such a strict inventory of all her goods and chattels, that if any one plundered her, of a pin, she was sure to find it out. She would miss a pea out of a peck, and she once kept her establishment up half the night to hunt about for a bit of cheese that was missing, it was at last found in the mouse-trap. “You extravagant minx," said she to the maid, “ here is cheese enough to bait three mouse-traps ;” and she nearly had her fingers snapt off in her haste to rescue the cheese from its prison. I used not to dine with my Aunt Fidget so often as with my Aunt Bridget, for my Aunt Fidget worried my very life out with the history of every article that was brought to table. She made me undergo the narration of all that she had said, and all that the butcher or the poulterer had said concerning the purchase of the provision; and she used always to tell me what was the price of mutton when her mother was a girl twopence a pound for the common pieces, and twopencehalfpenny for the prime pieces. Moreover, she always entertained me with an account of all her troubles, and with the sins and iniquities of her abominable servants, whom she generally changed once a month. Indeed, had I been inclined to indulge her with more of my company, I could not always manage to find her residence, for she was moving about from place to place, so that it was like playing a game at hunt-the-slipper to endeavour to find her. She once actually threatened to leave London altogether, if she could not find some more agreeable residence than hitherto it had been her lot to meet with. But there was one evil in my Aunt Fidget's behaviour which disturbed me more than anything else; she was always expecting that I should join her in abusing my placid Aunt Bridget. Aunt Bridget's style of housekeeping was not, perhaps, quite the pink of perfection, but it was not for me to find fault with it; and if she did sit still all day, she never found fault with those who did not; she never said anything evil of any of her neighbours. Aunt Fidget might be flying about all day like a witch upon a broomstick ; but Aunt Bridget made no remarks on it; she let her fly. The very sight of Aunt Fidget was enough to put one out of breath-she whisked about from place to place at such a rapid rate, always talking at the rate of nineteen to the dozen. We boys used to say of her that she never sat long enough in a chair to warm the cover. But she is gone-requiescat in pace ; and that is more than ever she did in her lifetime. THE RUINED LAIRD.*
SEASONABLE DITTIES.—NO. III.
BY THOMAS HAYNES BAYLY. .
THE LAST SUMMER BONNET.-A NOVEMBER PASTORAL. 'Tis the last summer bonnet, | That day, when the Captain The worse for the wear;
Would after us' jog, The feathers upon it .
And thought us entrapt in
His basket of prog!
He gave me a sandwich,
And not being checká,
He offered a hand-which . Of sunny days past.
I chose to reject !. The prejudice still is
And then you were teased with For poets to moan,
The gentleman's heart, When roses and lilies
Because you seem'd pleased with Are going and gone:
His gooseberry tart! ; '. But Fashion her sonnet
'Twas worn at the ladies .' Would rather compose On summer's last bonnet,
Toxopholite fête, Than summer's last rose !
(That sharp-shooting trade is
A thing that I hate; n l Though dreary November
Their market they mar, who is to Has darken'd the sky,
Attempt, for a prize, w You still must remember
To shoot with an arrow, I. That day in July,
Instead of their eyes.) ,
And don't that excursion .
By water forget; To take into Kent.
Sure, summer diversion - .
Was never so wet! You, long undecided
To sit there and shiver, What bonnet to choose,
And hear the wind blow, At length chose, as I did,
The rain, and the river,
Above, and below!
But hang the last bonnet-
What is it to us Gave mine to my maid.
That we should muse on it,
And moralise thus ? Oh, pause for a minute,
A truce to reflecting; Ere yours is resign'd;
To Carson's we'll go, Philosophy in it
Intent on selecting
A winter chapeau.
Then let Betty take it,
For Betty likes blue; Half out of their lives.
And Betty can make it
Look better than new : 'Twas worn at all places
In taste Betty's fellow Of public resort;
Was never yet seen; At Hogsnorton races,
She'll line it with yellow, So famous for sport;
And trim it with green!
The day fixed for the sale of Aberfoy at length dawned. Mrs. Græme had been gradually sinking under the blow which the loss of her young sons had inflicted. More feeble, more stupified than ever, she passed the greater part of her time in bed, weeping alike from weariness and grief. As little Jeanie stole down stairs that morning to her usual humble household tasks, her father's voice called her; it was unusually early for any one but herself to be stirring, and she turned, startled, to the door of the room whence the voice proceeded. Græme of Aberfoy called again, harshly and passionately; and the little girl hurriedly pushed back the half-open door, and stood waiting his further commands.
“ Is yere mother up?" demanded he.
One of the strange and unaccountable inflections which Jeanie had latterly observed in her father's voice, caused her suddenly to lift the long black eyelashes which shadowed her meek eyes, (eyes whose colour or expression few could tell, so constantly were they fixed on the ground,) and look in that father's face. A chill passed over her heart as she did so. Græme of Aberfoy sat by a little oak table on which stood a flask of whiskey and a tumbler ; his elbow leaned on the table, and his hand was thrust through his thick grizzled hair. Jeanie remembered, that so he had sát the night before, and it struck her that her father had not been to bed at all.
“ I am afraid, Sir ” she began, but she was interrupted. , · “What are ye afraid of? What—what ? But girls and women are aye shrinking and fearing what's to come. I dare say now yere mother's afraid ; but I'm not. I've just watched quietly for the day, and it's come at last, and I am not afraid to face it. Nae doubt ye're afraid ; but Douglas and merry Malcolm, ye'd no have seen dread in their eyes this day. Weel, weel, it's all right that Heaven sends; and they're gone first who should have stayed last; and may be, when we're far away, the sound of their voices 'ill no ring round me from the hill, nor glimpses of their winsome, gleeful faces shoot across my path ;-puir laddies, puir laddies! I'll stand the day better without them.” . “ Father! dear father!” said the weeping girl, “ I'm not afraid of bearing my share of anything my mother and you must bear. I was only afraid you had not been in bed last night, or rested any way.” · “ Rested !” the tone in which the word was spoken thrilled through Jeanie's heart; and as her father turned his flushed countenance and bloodshot eyes full upon her, she shrank instinctively from the glare of intoxication visible in his gaze.
“Do you want my mother, Sir?”' inquired she, after a pause., .6 'Deed, then, ye've said it; it was for that I called ye, and no' to hear that ye were afraid of anything. Go to yere mother; bid her make haste, and dress brawly: she's fond of a gay shawl and grand clothing; let her take this opportunity, for I'm thinking it ’ill be long before she sees as much guid company again as ’ill be gathered here to-day.”
* Continued from No. cliv., p. 179.